Dear Washington Evaluators,
What an already exciting start to 2022! Before I begin looking forward, I want to take a moment to sincerely thank Beeta Tahmassebi, our 2021 WE President, and our 2021 Board of Directors for a truly phenomenal year! Despite the continued challenges we all faced in 2021, our Board rose to the occasion and went above and beyond to serve our members.
If you are interested in learning more about all the amazing things we did in 2021, Washington Evaluators was featured during the week of January 23rd, 2022 for the AEA365 blog. Each day, current and former WE Board members shared “How WE Met the Moment by Focusing on Equity and Access.” The 2021 Annual Report is also available here, which provides additional information about our accomplishments last year.
Under Beeta’s leadership, the Washington Evaluators Board engaged members to chart a new course by developing a new strategic plan, which will guide our activities through 2024. We remain firmly committed to WE’s 2020 statement “Embodying Anti-Racism Principles and Practices in Evaluation” and will build on the momentum generated by our previous action plan by generating a new action plan for 2022, which will be an important goal-setting activity for the current WE Board.
My theme for this year is COMMUNITY. In a time when we are physically distanced, there are two ways in which I plan to focus on building a sense of community:
As your President, there are two immediate commitments I am making to help WE build a stronger sense of community:
Here are three ways our members can contribute to building a strong sense of community:
There are many exciting things on the horizon, and I and our Board members are so thankful to have an organization that is thriving despite the challenges and tragedies our communities have faced in recent years. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and your resilience and dedication to this evaluation community is what makes Washington Evaluators such an incredible organization. Thank you for sharing your light, wisdom, knowledge, and (com)passion with each other. I look forward to seeing what 2022 has in store for us!
Esther Nolton, PhD, MEd
2022 Washington Evaluators President
The 2021 Board of Directors is pleased to share our 2021 Action Plan that reflects the organization’s priorities for this year. This plan came a bit later in the year as we were busy working on our 2021-2024 Strategic Plan and were committed to doing that in a participatory and inclusive way that we knew would take some time. Nonetheless, we knew some of the key commitments we were going to focus on in regards to diversity and inclusion and we used those to guide our 2021 actions.
The 2021 Action Plan outlines the Board’s commitment to greater access and diversity and identifies for each objective specific action steps. We will soon be sharing the end of year report to showcase how we have been putting this plan into action throughout the year.
We are excited to have continued our association’s strong tradition of promoting the field of evaluation in the Washington, D.C. area in 2021, and we thank our members for supporting and sustaining a strong community of local evaluators.
Read the 2021 Action Plan
The 2021 Board of Directors is pleased to share Washington Evaluators’ draft Strategic Plan for 2021-2024. This plan outlines our guiding principles, goals and objectives for the organization for the years ahead. Before finalizing, we are opening up the plan for comments from our membership. Our board and our organization are here to support your needs and interests, and we hope that you will take the time to review this plan and provide us with your feedback. You can send any comments or suggestions to Patricia Moore Shaffer, our 2021 past-president, who has been spearheading this effort. You can reach Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also welcome to reach out to me at email@example.com. The deadline for member comments is August 15, 2021.
We thank you for your active engagement in our community and look forward to all that we will accomplish together in the years ahead.
2021 President, Washington Evaluators
Draft 2021-2024 Strategic Plan
Planning Towards Equity: Integrating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Antiracism into Washington Evaluators (2021), a report by Paragon Education Consulting commissioned by the Washington Evaluators
Happy New Year! As I begin my year as Washington Evaluators President, I would like to start by thanking Patricia Shaffer, WE’s 2020 President, as well as the 2020 Board of Directors and our committee members for an incredible year. 2020 was a challenge for us as it was for so many others. And yet, our board did an amazing job of pivoting us to a new online reality while still maintaining programming, communications, member services and community engagement activities. Please join me in thanking them for their hard work and commitment to our members.
As we look to 2021, we are still facing a great deal of uncertainty. We don’t know what the future holds. But the thing about uncertainty is that it is also an opportunity for innovation and exploration. So my goals for Washington Evaluators focus on supporting one another while also exploring our purpose and vision for the years ahead.
In this moment, Washington Evaluators is at a cross-roads. With the development of our new strategic plan in the coming months, we are being called to think critically about the past, re-commit to the values and activities that we want to carry forward, and find new ways of engaging and creating value for our membership and our community.
My greatest hope is that we will emerge from 2021 with a clear sense of purpose, a vision for the future and the confidence that this vision serves the needs of our membership and our community. To support these goals, we will focus on the following opportunities:
As we look ahead, we are fortunate to have at the helm of WE an incredible board for 2021 (see flipgrid introductions here). Together, we are all excited to serve you, our members, and we are optimistic for the future. But we cannot do it alone. As in previous years, we will need your support to achieve our goals. You can help to create our vision for the future and build the community we want to be a part of. Here are just a few ways that you can help:
Washington Evaluators is requesting proposals for a Consultant to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into WE's strategic planning process. Proposals are due Nov. 2, 2020.
Washington Evaluators serves the evaluation community by advocating for the growth of the evaluation profession and by fostering state-of the art knowledge and information sharing about evaluation practice. The organization’s current strategic plan, which covers operations from 2017-2020, includes four key strategic goals: strengthening the sustainability of the evaluation community; enhancing evaluation relationships and interactions; supporting individual evaluators' professional development needs; and ensuring strong administration of the organization.
As the organization begins to develop a new strategic plan for 2021-2024, and in light of WE’s 2020 commitments to integrating anti-racism into our programming, membership, community engagement, and communication activities, and administration/operations, the WE board wishes to engage a Consultant to solicit membership inputs on strategic priorities and the integration of a DEI lens to inform the organization’s 2021-2024 strategic plan.
Qualified candidates will be expert in designing and facilitating interactive and participatory online meetings using Zoom (or equivalent) technology; have experience with strategic planning at the organizational level; and have expert knowledge in DEI theories, practices, and standards and experience applying this knowledge in a professional setting. People of color, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and people with other marginalized identities are strongly encouraged to apply. Due to the virtual nature of this scope of work, we will consider qualified candidates living anywhere in the US; travel to the Washington, DC area is not required.
Washington Evaluators is a 100% volunteer organization, and it is the committed work of our volunteer Board, committee members, mentors, and Evaluation Without Borders team members that allows our organization to offer a wide range of community services and member benefits, including Mentor Minutes, the New Professional Scholarship, and professional development and networking events.
Within the next month, we begin the process of recruiting our 2021 WE Board. Board nominations and elections will be announced soon for the Treasurer and President Elect positions. There are also opportunities to volunteer for committee chair positions that are appointed to the WE Board, including for Communications, Community Engagement, Membership, and Programs. Not interested in joining the Board but would still like to volunteer? Consider signing up as a volunteer for one of these committees.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to grow professionally, meet new friends, and expand your professional network. Join us at our August 19th Board meeting to learn more about our organization and to see how you might get involved.
The 2020 Board of Directors has published an Action Plan to guide the organization’s activities this year. In following the approval of the Washington Evaluators Strategic Plan for 2017-2020, this Action Plan outlines the Board’s commitment to achieving the broader objectives of the organization, ensuring that the association operates efficiently for the benefit of its dues-paying members and the broader evaluation community in the Washington, D.C. area.
The 2020 Action Plan identifies for each objective specific action steps, associated deadlines and milestones, and the responsible person or committee. At the end of this year, we will provide an update to our members, illustrating the progress we have made on these items.
It is appropriate to note that as the Board prepared this plan during March and April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, forcing the Board to consider how the organization connects and supports our community at a time when meeting in person is no longer possible. For this reason, activities and events discussed in this Action Plan may be virtual in format rather than in-person. What matters is that we continue to offer opportunities to nurture our community of practice and build capacity for public good.
We are excited to continue our association’s strong tradition of promoting the field of evaluation in the Washington, D.C. area in 2020, and we thank our members for supporting and sustaining a strong community of local evaluators.
Patricia Moore Shaffer
Sign up to volunteer with a Washington Evaluator Committee
Washington Evaluators is devoted to strengthening and sustaining the evaluation community in the Washington DC area by recruiting and helping to educate the next generation of evaluators. Part of this year's Next Generation 2020 focus on students, the “New Professional Scholarship" supports new professionals in integrating state-of-the-art knowledge and information sharing into their evaluation practices and approaches within their respective organizations and/or future practice.
Washington Evaluators is pleased to announce our 2020 New Professional Scholarship recipients: Fanni Farago and Bryce Leary.
Fanni Farago is a first-year Sociology PhD student at George Mason University and a Research Assistant at the Center for Social Science Research. Prior to attending Mason, she obtained her Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Houston. Fanni is also a first-generation Hungarian-American immigrant with strong personal ties to her hometown, Budapest. This scholarship opens the door for her formal program evaluation training, which she will apply to advance a graduate student-run evaluation project for a local nonprofit.
Bryce Leary is from Falmouth, Maine, and received his BA in Political Science at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. He then spent two years in Senegal extending sustainable agricultural techniques as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Following this experience, Bryce joined the International Development Master's program at the School of International Service with a concentration in Evaluation and is graduating this May. Bryce is excited to use the New Professional Scholarship to jump-start his career and promote the evaluation community in Washington, DC.
It was only two weeks ago that life was still normal, when going to work meant a commute on the Metro and a work day meant a day in the office among colleagues. Two weeks later, our world has profoundly changed. Our lives have become home-based, with our worklife (if we still have a job) becoming a string of video-conferences that distract us, at least momentarily, from the rising counts of COVID-19 cases we hear on the news. Heading out to the grocery store is now a major event, and the sound of coughing in a public space brings on a sense of dread.
In the midst of this chaos, many of us have also experienced uplifting moments of connection. My video-conferences during the past two weeks have been unusually intimate, often beginning with informal sharing of how we've been impacted by the pandemic and punctuated by the sounds of pets or children that give us insights into the personal lives of clients and colleagues. These digital connections make us all feel a bit closer to each other despite being physically apart. And this matters deeply during a time when the world we've known all our lives seems to be unraveling.
I was delighted to read Michael Quinn Patton's post, Evaluation Implications of the Coronavirus Global Health Pandemic Emergency, which helped me to reflect on the impacts of this crisis on our evaluation practice. He ends the article by challenging us to support each other as an evaluation community. "Buddy up. Stay connected to other evaluators. Participate actively in our professional networks and associations. . . . Think about what contributions you can make, as an evaluator, to mitigate the crisis."
To help us stay connected to each other, Washington Evaluators is offering to members a series of online discussions with thought leaders in our field during the next few months. Aly Lopez of the Center for Evaluation Innovation kicks off our series on April 8 with a discussion about how leaders can affect evaluation capacity building in foundations. On April 22, Donna Mertens discusses the role of transformative evaluation in international development. Michael Quinn Patton rounds out the series with his reflections on evaluation during the pandemic on May 6. Please join the discussion, connect with your peers, and reflect on our potential as leaders improving the world we live in.
I also encourage you to get involved in Evaluation Without Borders, which is currently recruiting evaluators and community-based organizations and nonprofits seeking program planning, measurement, and evaluation services. Perhaps there has been no greater time of need for nonprofits than now. Please share this opportunity with your network.
The Washington Evaluators is devoted to strengthening and sustaining the evaluation community in the Washington DC area by recruiting and helping to educate the next generation of evaluators. Building on our theme of building capacity for public good, Washington Evaluators announces its Next Generation 2020 initiative to support students in the field of program evaluation. This month, WE launches the 2020 “New Professional Scholarship" competition. This scholarship is intended to support new professionals in integrating state-of-the-art knowledge and information sharing into their evaluation practices and approaches within their respective organizations and/or future practice. The Scholarship serves as one means to recruit new professionals into the evaluation community and facilitate continued diversity in the profession. The Scholarship is open to new professionals, currently enrolled students, postdocs and new graduates.
Later this month, students are encouraged to join WE for its first career-focused event for students: the DC SCEP - Washington Evaluators Graduate Student Career Fair and Networking Event. Held on Friday, March 27, at George Washington University, this career fair and networking event provides graduate students with an excellent opportunity to connect with DC-area employers hiring program evaluators. Employers confirmed to attend include Center for Global Health Engagement, EnCompass, Government Accountability Office, Guidehouse, Ipsos Public Affairs, IREX, Itad, Mercy Corps, and Millennium Challenge Corporation. This free event is co-sponsored by the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Administration's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, Washington Evaluators, and Mirror Group, LLC.
WE encourages our members to support local evaluation students and emerging evaluators by serving as mentors. Mentor Minutes is an initiative that pairs experienced evaluators (mentors) with aspiring, emerging, or seasoned evaluators (mentees) and establish mutually beneficial professional connections. Mentors can provide feedback regarding careers, reflect on their professional experiences, and help build the capacity and networks of emerging evaluators. Mentees, in contrast, will be able to glean insights from mentors regarding academic and professional pathways, technical advice, and general networking.
Thanks to the amazing group of WE Board and committee members and volunteers responsible for supporting students this year: Mindelyn Anderson, Emily Bango, Val Caracelli, Sue Cottrell, Danielle Gilmore, Bryce Leary, and Beeta Tahmassebi.
(c) 2017 Washington Evaluators